Thursday, January 28, 2016

This is a book that I had been awaiting for a long time and it does not disappoint. From the day I received Garry Apgar's illustrated manuscript a few years ago, I knew that I was reading something special.

I use the following criteria to judge a Disney book:

- Is the subject matter compelling?
- Does the text contain new information?
- Is the text easy to read?
- Are there any endnotes or precise references to the sources of the information which give me confidence that what I am reading is accurate?
- Does the book include visual documents that I have not seen before?

The answer to all those questions is an enthusiastic yes when it comes to Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit. This huge art-book is clearly one of the most important Disney-history books released last year and will remain a key references for years to come. I learned a lot by reading it and discovered dozens of visual documents which I was not aware of.

So, is this the definitive book about Mickey Mouse? Without a doubt, when it comes to the history of the genesis of Mickey or to the history of Mickey's place in the art world, etc. But there is still space in my bookshelves for at least one more book about Mickey Mouse after this one: one that would be written by experts like David Gerstein and JB Kaufman about the making of Mickey's cartoons and the Mickey shorts that were planned but abandoned.

In the meantime I will read and re-read with tremendous delight Garry's magnum opus.


Christian S. said...

There is also another Mickey Mouse book called The Evolution, The Legend, The Phenomenon! (2001) Bought my copy from a journalist who first sold me The Disney That Never Was (1995) to begin with

Unknown said...

Thank you for the fantastic review. I would love to buy a good book about mickey (with a strong visual aspect) since I don't have one yet, but the amount of mickeybooks out there is quite confusing. So if you would recommand only one book about mickey, wich one would it be? thank you in advance!

Didier Ghez said...

Garry Apgar's. but then again it depends on what you are interested in, of course.

Garry Apgar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garry Apgar said...

"The Evolution, The Legend, The Phenomenon!" (2001) by Robert Heide and John Gilman, from Disney Editions, is a fine book, chock full of pictures. It was one of several sources of inspiration for "Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit," published by the Walt Disney Family Foundation Press.

However, the Heide book is just 192 pp. long, and the text is minimal. It's basically a coffee-table book, whereas "Emblem" contains 323 illustrations (most in full color) and is 336 pp. long. "Emblem" is also less anecdotal. It offers a true history and illustrated critical overview of Mickey's life as an pop culture icon, something no other book has ever attempted or accomplished. On Amazon it costs less than $27.00, which, I'd say, is a pretty sweet deal.

Jim Korkis's "The Book of Mouse" (2013) and my more recent anthology, "A Mickey Mouse Reader" (2014), also should interest folks seriously into Mickey and Disney. But, if images are a decisive factor, you should know that Jim's book has no illustrations ... and there are only about a dozen in mine, although most of them have never been published, or rather, republished till now.

The "Reader," published by the University Press of Mississippi, contains news squibs and longer articles and essays on Mickey from 1928 down to the present day from a wide variety of sources, including Maurice Sendak and John Updike.